Schalk joined his club Saracens on a visit to the Little Champs project in Kayamandi to meet young people involved in the community sports programme there.
London-based Saracens, one of the top European rugby teams, are currently touring South Africa and visited Little Champs, thanks to the involvement of their Technical Director Brendan Venter, who is the founder of the Legacy Centre where the project is based.
Saracens have played a vital role in the development of the Legacy Centre, including the creation of the Saracens Field of Dreams, an artificial pitch which provides an opportunity for children from the community to play sport and take part in physical activity.
A portion of the players’ salaries are donated to the Legacy Centre, which is then matched by Saracens Chairman Nigel Wray.
Schalk, one of the leading rugby hookers in the world, is regarded as one of the most exciting players in the game and has played for the Springboks five times. He said: “I am delighted to become a Laureus Ambassador and even more pleased to be able to come here today with my Saracens team-mates. The tie-up between Saracens and the Legacy Centre is something that all the players are passionate about and we are delighted to do what we can to help. On this visit we have been able to open a new classroom which will increase the number of young people who can be helped here.”
Springboks rugby legend Morné du Plessis, Chairman of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in South Africa, said: “We are thrilled to welcome such a high profile sports star as Schalk to the Laureus Family. His energy and commitment will be a big asset to Laureus around the world in our work with young people. Following the visit today Laureus will be working together more closely in the future with the Legacy Centre and Little Champs.”
Little Champs aims to ensure that there is not another lost generation of children in previously disadvantaged communities whose educational capacity is impeded as a result of illiteracy. These children often start their schooling with poorly developed motor skills – the small muscle movements that occur in finger-eye coordination – which can impact on academic performance and participation in sports programmes. For the Kayamandi youngsters involved in the project, learning physical skills will also improve life skills. Through sport the children will learn.
Children between the ages of three and six are encouraged, through their local pre-schools, to take part in the Little Champs course. The sport for development programme revolves around sports coaching and non-competitive physical activity.
The core elements include: hand-eye coordination, balance, agility, spatial awareness and speed. The cognitive and social development programme includes: stories, reading, communication, positive attitude, self-esteem, healthy lifestyle, sportsmanship, sharing and leadership.